One of the best parts of my job as editor of the site is sitting down with my assistant editor, Joshua Duder, and Robbie Smuckler, owner of Icarus FC, to discuss which throwback kit we will be designing for the next promotion. We always try to pick semi obscure clubs, for two reasons, 1. No copyright issues to deal with and 2. It exposes a club to a whole new segment of the American soccer public. The first is obvious, I guess, but the second I think deserves some discussion. There’s a mistake too many people in this country make when it comes to soccer history. They assume that America doesn’t have one. That MLS, formed in the mid 90’s for the World Cup, is the beginning of everything.
That’s not a little wrong, it’s dead wrong.
American soccer has been alive and kicking for over 100 years. From the old ASL, which I’ve written about pretty regularly to the NPSL of the mid 60s to the NASL of the 70s, there’s been leagues and clubs full of players who throughout the last century played soccer. There was even a time, during the 20’s and 30’s, when soccer was the dominant sport in the United States, and not by a little. Just because we’ve grown up in an era where American football, baseball, and basketball are dominating the sports’ landscape, doesn’t mean that’s the way it’s always been.
Vital Vintage, our series of throwback kits, tries to grow the understanding of that soccer history, one kit at a time. Our first throwback was for Vampire Association FC, a club that played in the early 1900s in Northern California. Aside from the awesome motif of vampires, bringing to light the existence of a league in the San Francisco area dating back that far made the kit a perfect choice for our first one. This month’s addition to the collection might be even more obscure than our first!
If you want the history of the Chicago Spurs, Dominic already wrote a fascinating article that you should definitely read, so instead, I’ll focus on the design of our kit instead.
Unlike with VAFC, the crest on this kit is actually original from the club. It’s a beautiful bit of 60’s design, with the round shape of the ball, subdivided by white lines that imply movement and spin. The letters that spell out the name of the club are definitely of the era and continue to imply movement through their shape and curve. So without the redesign of the crest, the rest of the kit was where the real modifications would happen.
For those not familiar with Chicago, the flag of Chicago is everywhere in the city. People get it tattooed on them, windows of apartments sport them, it’s everywhere. By using the red of the kit as a background, the traditional stars from the flag are used to give depth and make the kit itself more interesting. It also ties the kit to the city in an obvious (if you know what the star implies) but also subtle way (if you don’t know about the flag). That pattern also makes an appearance over the shoulders with a bright line of white stars that lead down from the neck.
Rather than go with a high collar, we went with a traditional polo collar, which we felt was appropriate for this time period. This kit also features some beautiful white lines that subdivide the space in creative ways. It’s a specimen!
The kit is a celebration of Chicago and a beautiful one at that! We hope that people will appreciate the history of Chicago soccer as much as we do - and hopefully purchase one of our kits.
- Dan Vaughn